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By Manish Anand

New Delhi, June 19: In the next few days, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) would announce the nominee of the party-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) for the July 18 President’s election.

Even while the tenures of the incumbent President Ram Nath Kovind and his deputy M Venkaiah Naidu have been without any controversies, which would have made them eligible for the second terms, political observers largely concur that Prime Minister Narendra Modi would bring a new set of people for the two Constitutional posts.

At the outset, it must be stated that holding on to secrets till the last days is the hallmark of Modi and his closest aide and the Union Minister for Home Affairs Amit Shah.

So, it’s an outright futile exercise to predict the next occupant of the Rashtrapati Bhavan and the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha.

Still, the BJP under the stewardship of Modi-Shah gives preeminence to caste considerations in its choices, including while fielding nominee for the Presidential election. That gives a little bit of clue for the political journalists to work on.

President Kovind was the Governor of Bihar when he was declared the Presidential candidate by the BJP.

The Presidential candidate must be well-versed with the Constitutional norms, and the Centre-state relations, besides being well acquainted with the conventions in relations to the Judiciary and the Armed Forces.

The President is the supreme commander of India. He also swears in the Chief Justice of India to his office.

In post-facto analysis, the BJP had zeroed in on Kovind to send out a loud message to the Dalits, particularly in Gujarat, which in another five months was going for the Assembly elections and the Patidar agitation had pushed the ruling party in the state to the wall.

The BJP will again be facing the Gujarat Assembly elections, but the party is resting assured that the victory will be thumping amid the decimation of the principal opponent Congress.

That gives the BJP the comfort to think of the larger electoral vision.

Before the advent of Modi on the national scene, the BJP was identified with the upper castes constituencies. Modi brought the other backward castes tilt to the BJP.

The BJP is still searching for ways to win the support base among the tribal and Dalits. The BJP is out of power in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha, while the saffron outfit is keen to consolidate on gains made in the North-east, which has many states with majority tribal population.

Besides, the BJP’s Mission South to gain power in the southern states in addition to Karnataka and Goa hasn’t yet taken off despite determined bid of Shah and his predecessor JP Nadda. Whenever Modi visits Tamil Nadu, ‘Go Back Modi’ trends on Twitter.

Thus, we close in on a few additional cues that the BJP may play the southern and Dalit/ tribal card in its choice of the Presidential election. If they were to click, then the Governors with matching profile may be looked at.

The BJP’s ability to spring surprise and shock beyond expectations also remains true.

Can the BJP get the Bahujan Samaj Party to merge with itself to ride the 18 per cent Dalit vote base in Uttar Pradesh en block and get its chief Mayawati in the Rashtrapati Bhavan? The BJP is well known to look for ways to significantly alter the political and electoral moorings. Even such a wild speculation can be attempted, because the BJP has shown limitless ability to shock and surprise.

But let it be stated again that any speculation over the BJP’s Presidential nominee is unnecessary, though it may be indulged in for entertainment purposes.


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